Fit for a Princess
Fit for a Princess
Reel of Fortune
It’s quite simply London’s classiest hotel so an invitation to a party in the Private Dining Room of The Goring is frame worthy. A promotion from mantlepiece to wall no less. Saturday night turns out to be an inimitable mix of stylish comfort and comfortable style, high fashion and high jinks; capturing the last gasp of summer, the curtains gently sway in the soft breeze. For starters, mains and after eight (or rather midnight) pudding:
There’s a distinctly Highlands fling feel to it all. Well, if it was good enough for the Queen Mother… The Castle of Mey comes to Beeston Place. A cake by Meghan Markle’s favourite baker? My gosh. That’s the icing on the proverbial. The silk wall hanging is divine. Everyone will have to stay! Carriages at dawn.
Behind the Scenes
Not many fashion designers are inspired by pieces of legislation but then not many fashion designers are like Mary Martin. In less than five years she has gained the sort of international recognition others would kill for. For her, going viral is a daily occurrence. Her name first came to the world’s attention (via Huff Post and BBC World Service if you please) when she created the Cecil the Lion Dress for Africa Fashion Week London 2015. “When I saw on TV the lion that had been killed I was deeply deeply shocked,” Mary said. She decided to make the dress in black out of mourning for Cecil. “The big fluffy bits along the top are the tulle, the lion’s mane. The back has got the silkiness and fineness of the lion’s body.” Like all her clothes, Mary painstakingly made the dress by hand, ever the perfectionist, working round the clock to meet the catwalk deadline.
Anyway back to that legislation. Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression,” is what inspired the latest collection from Mary Martin London. That, and a certain mixed race princess. She’s showing again at Africa Fashion Week London much to the thrill of her loyal fans and customers (a few well known popstars included). “I live by Article 10 values and I feel that Prince Harry and Meghan are great beacons: they’ve practised their own freedom of expression by breaking down barriers of class and race by showing us love is for everyone!” The collection is dedicated to the new Duchess of Sussex.
Article 10 The Royal Collection is a riot of colour and form and material and decoration and expression and beauty and movement and chutzpah. The detailing is incredible, such craftmanship. An international fusion of British and African influences is apt for the show and for her standing. Mary may be a real laugh but she takes her work super seriously. She’s flown in her favourite models from France and Switzerland to join London’s best. The clock is ticking again. It’s only a couple of days till she shows at Africa Fashion Week London. “The hems aren’t finished yet!” she cries, dashing round the fittings room, whipping up a frenzied buzz of excitement and pizzazz.
“I’m a fashion icon!” laughs the gregarious designer. It’s no joke: she’s just won the Fashion Icon Award at the International Achievers’ Awards in recognition of her dedication to the industry. Self taught, she’s just back from headlining the Mercedes Benz International Fashion Week in Ghana – another roaring success. Somehow in between, no time to be killed, Mary managed to collect an accolade at the Celebrating People of Colour ceremony in Birmingham. With a killer collection nearing completion, human rights legislation has never been so exciting!
Tipping into the Beyond
Well life can’t just be one big party. Actually, yes it can. Snapping Sir David Davies and Leonie Frieda at the Irish Embassy. Giggling with The Baroness “call me Emma” Pidding at the House of Lords. Wherever there’s Perrier-Jouët, there’s Lavender’s Blue. Thank goodness then, for another year, Perrier-Jouët is the Champers Partner of Masterpiece. Punchy! The Perrier-Jouët Terrace, a vivid realm in the pneumatic womb of the blow up Royal Hospital Chelsea, is where it’s at. Its new Blanc de Blancs Non Vintage is “a single varietal Chardonnay, a true and unadulterated expression of the emblematic grape at the heart of the Perrier-Jouët style,” pitches Champagne Ambassador Jonathan Simms. The Queen’s Rolls Royce, yes the one Meghan Markle borrowed for her wedding, is on display. Summer’s here, so is everyone; the Season’s begun.
The tradition that began last year of unveiling a major new artwork continues with huge aplomb. “Performance is an immaterial form of art,” explains the Serbian painter turned performance artist Marina Abramović. She’s 72. “At this point of my life, facing mortality, I decided to capture my performance in a more permanent material than just film and photography. I chose alabaster based on its history and properties – luminosity, transparency… They have a hauntingly physical presence but, as you move around the pieces, they decompose into intricately carved ‘landscapes of alabaster’.” Presented by Factum Arte in collaboration with Lisson Gallery, Marina’s Five Stages of Maya Dance fuse performance, light and sculpture through a mist of condensation. The party continues into the night on Sloane Square. Such unleashed chutzpah!
Off to The Most Noble Order of the Garter at Windsor. This year, the Sovereign’s two appointment includes Viscount Brookeborough, Lord Lieutenant of Fermanagh. So the Northern Irish contingent is growing. Alan Brooke, 3rd Viscount Brookeborough, owns the beautiful Colebrooke Estate near Fivemiletown. Ashbrooke House, the estate’s elegant dower house, is available to let. The Viscount has been The Queen’s Personal Lord-in-Waiting since 1997, commuting several days a week across the Irish Sea. He served with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces from 1971 to 1994. Also present from the west of the Province is James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Abercorn. The Chancellor of the Order, he owns Baronscourt Estate in County Tyrone, all 15,000 acres of it. Today, he’s donned his great grandfather’s robes. The London based Earl of Ulster arrives. His 11 year old son Xan is the Queen’s Page of Honour. And then of course there are certain guests from Northern Ireland.
There’s just about as much pomp and glory as England can stomp up. Which is a lot. Such unfurled magnificence! Beefeaters and Military Knights of Windsor stand to attention. The Irish Guards’ mascot – an Irish wolfhound of course – steals the processional show. The Royals are a veritable bloom of ostrich plumes, black velvet robes and insignia glistening in the shafts of sunlight. Trumpets sound: a Zadokic zenith: The Queen arrives last at 3pm on the dot looking resplendent with her perfectly powdered face and clustered diamond earrings. Prince William looks solemn. Prince Charles and Camilla are all smiles. So is a very regal Princess Alexandra. She looks just like her namesake grandmother. Her Royal Highness is Patron of Masterpiece. Atop a spinning world, embracing this crazy pulsing era, it’s Perrier-Jouët-o’clock once again.
The Marchioness arrives.
So does Mary Martin.
We’re not gonna split town just yet.